Motion Pictures in History Teaching

Chronicles of America

The Gateway to the West (1924), from Motion Pictures in History Teaching

Just added to the Bioscope Library is Daniel C. Knowlton and J. Warren Tilton’s Motion Pictures in History Teaching: A Study of the Chronicles of America Photoplays as a Aid in Seventh Grade Instruction (1929). The Chronicles of America was a 1923-24 series of educational film series produced by Yale University Press. The series included such earnest and traditionalist titles as Jamestown, Yorktown, Daniel Boone, The Declaration of Independence and The Gateway to the West. These three-reeler dramas were relatively lavishly produced, helping to pay their way by getting theatrical screenings. But their target audience was in the classrooms of America, and this study of the series examines its pedagogical value. It looks at how the series contributed to ‘the learning of fundamentals’, and the degree to which they contributed to enrichment, retention and creation of interest’, through a meticulous system of testing groups. The painstaking methodology is as fascinating as the underlying assumptions of the films’ photo-historical validity. It is also handsomely illustrated with stills from the films. It’s available from the Internet Archive in PDF (48MB), DjVu (5.4MB) and TXT (326KB) formats.

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